Crowdsourcing via Annotator Co-occurrence Imputation and Provable Symmetric Nonnegative Matrix Factorization

Shahana Ibrahim · Xiao Fu

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[ Paper ]

Unsupervised learning of the Dawid-Skene (D&S) model from noisy, incomplete and crowdsourced annotations has been a long-standing challenge, and is a critical step towards reliably labeling massive data. A recent work takes a coupled nonnegative matrix factorization (CNMF) perspective, and shows appealing features: It ensures the identifiability of the D\&S model and enjoys low sample complexity, as only the estimates of the co-occurrences of annotator labels are involved. However, the identifiability holds only when certain somewhat restrictive conditions are met in the context of crowdsourcing. Optimizing the CNMF criterion is also costly---and convergence assurances are elusive. This work recasts the pairwise co-occurrence based D&S model learning problem as a symmetric NMF (SymNMF) problem---which offers enhanced identifiability relative to CNMF. In practice, the SymNMF model is often (largely) incomplete, due to the lack of co-labeled items by some annotators. Two lightweight algorithms are proposed for co-occurrence imputation. Then, a low-complexity shifted rectified linear unit (ReLU)-empowered SymNMF algorithm is proposed to identify the D&S model. Various performance characterizations (e.g., missing co-occurrence recoverability, stability, and convergence) and evaluations are also presented.

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